IBM hails memory technology breakthrough

Like flash memory but faster and more durable
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IBM researchers hailed a breakthrough in memory technology as they demonstrated that a new type of memory technology, phase-change memory, can reliably store data over extended periods of time.

IBM said that the new technology heralds the development of low-cost, faster and more durable memory for an array of devices all the way from consumer mobile phones up to high performance enterprise memory.

"We made a big step towards enabling practical memory devices based on multi-bit PCM," said IBM Research memory chief Dr. Haris Pozidis.

The researchers said that the benefits of phase-change memory would allow computers and servers to "boot instantaneously" and provide an overall performance boost to IT systems.

One of the advantages of PCM is that the new memory technology can write and retrieve data 100 times faster than flash, which brings the memory closer to the performance of volatile DRAM while remaining non-volatile.

Unlike flash, PCM is also said to be more durable and able to be re-written at least 10 million times compared to just 3,000 times for consumer flash and 30,000 for enterprise-class flash memory technology. Current generation solid state drives have to go to fancy extremes to 'wear level' the use of the entire memory to stave off such read-write effects.

IBM published a comparison chart of memory technologies which shows that the advances in multi-level phase-change memory looks set to bring up the data density to that of flash memory and the speed up to what IBM describes as 'good/adequate'.

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